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Tag Archive for ‘Black’

Subtext of a shopping spree

Store #1
As soon as I walked into Black Market/White whatever I regretted it. I felt obligated to walk the store and pretend to look. Do you want the truth of why I went in there? I heard Michelle Obama bought a dress there. I thought I might something that made me look First Lady ready. I did not. Nothing in there but a couple of salesgirls gossiping about their co-workers. As I left the store I stopped and said a silent prayer thanking the Lord that I do not work retail.

Store #2
This was soooooo depressing. The store was disheveled. The sales guy walked by me four times, one time literally running into me before it occurred to him to say hello. I came to the mall with the intention of buying this blouse at Banana Republic. I love a good wrap blouse as they give me the illusion of a waist. I am always looking for a white top that will work. I saw that the collarless long-sleeve top also came in black. I cruised the store looking for some day dresses that would make me look as good as Karen did at the Getty. No such dress to be found. I cruised the sales racks. I pulled a pair of jeans and a wide leg pair of khakis to try.

I went into the dressing room which looked like it was an adolescence bedroom, or as my father used to call it “a pig pen.” My depression deepened. The lack of a courteous sales associate and a super messy dressing room made me seriously home sick for the Banana Republic in Highland Park. I tried on my garments with visions of the North shore of Chicago dancing in my head. In the monastic like silence of the sales assistants, I remembered conversations I had with the super solicitous Chicago sales associates who inquired about which Chanel fragrance I was wearing and wasn’t my necklace from their Spring 2007 collection and how cute my shoes were. I sighed audibly breaking the silence.

The jeans were bad. Khakis were sad. Tops were painful. Let me say out loud what I already know, I look terrible in white tops. I must add this truth to the things I know about myself like: I do not do meditation tapes so do not buy them. I do not want a full-time job. If I eat pasta before 11 a.m. I am going to have a very bad self-image day. I will never look like great in a crisp white blouse—I will look like a waitress who works at Chili’s.

I arrived in the dressing room looking alright. I left looking like sh*t. I am not sure how it happened. But it did.

As I chose to buy yet another gold necklace I overheard the manager ask her subordinate dressed in black if he was planning on going to a funeral. My reaction was strong. I considered pulling out my cellphone and calling BR corporate to report her sartorial sacrilege.

I went into Gap expecting to find NOTHING. I was just stalling. I didn’t want to go home. No, not true. I didn’t want to go outside. It was hot and I didn’t park in the shade and by the time the car cooled down I would be back home. My trip to the Gap was just about wasting time. I had nothing to do when I got back home with no internet and nothing on TV and no book to read. As I reviewed the absence of items on my agenda I grew more depressed.

I found a straight black pencil skirt. I was sure it would be awful as most pencil skirts are. But, then I saw a transparent weight turtleneck that tempted me. I tried the two on and they were perfect. So perfect that I bought two of each. When I got the ensemble on I felt transported, I was no longer unemployed and living in Desperate Housewife land, I lived in NYC. I worked in art galleries. I had Salmon Rushdie’s and Jeff Koons’ phone number in my Palm Pilot. This was an outfit that required a back up.

Store #4
Walking into Macy’s heightened my depression. The clothes and the sales people and the customers and….everything, it all felt so sad. I tried to tell myself that it was the fluorescent lights, or the bad Feng Shui or even low blood sugar that was responsible for my Macy’s melancholy. I walked through cosmetics and jewelry where I can usually find something to want. Nothing. I was completely devoid of serotonin and the will to walk by the time I got to the shoe department. I did three laps through the department before I found the Mark Fisher Sanjay Slingback in black.

The pictures on does not do this shoe justice. These shoes are cute and comfortable and there is something about the way these shoes frame my feet that I feel like I could pose for a Vargas portrait. As well as being kind of sexy, they are insanely comfortable. This is how comfortable they are, I asked the sales gal if she brought me a Naturalizer or a pair of Aerosoles by mistake. She had not.

Store #5
The first thing I noticed when I walked into Nine West was the guy in all black from Banana Republic. He was commiserating on the cruelty of his manager’s comment with the guys at Nine West who were also all in black. I tried to eavesdrop on their conversation as I picked up a cheetah sling. The trio in black turned into a duo when Man in black #2 asked if I wanted to try it on. I did. He brought me a box with more excessive wrapping and packaging than anything you could buy at Circuit City. It took me five minutes to free the slings from all their unnecessary packaging. Man in black #2 and I talked about the absurdity of all the packaging as I looked at how the sling made my calf look. They looked great, thanks for asking. As happy as I am about my shoes, I don’t have anywhere to wear them. I am well-heeled with nowhere to go. I try to console myself and tell myself if I get the wardrobe my life will come.

Sadly the photo of the shoe is not online. Will post photo once I get my own high speed Internet again. Oh, and Man #2 and I talked about how it would be a good idea to write a letter to 9West about their excessive and environmentally unfriendly packaging. I am sending my letter here.

Store #6
The sales gals at Ann Taylor were warm and friendly
and seemed genuinely concerned how I was doing. I felt sure that if I dared to tell them the truth they would actually care.I looked for the faux leather motorcycle jacket that Leah raved about. They didn’t have it in my size and even if they did I fear that my motorcycle jacket days are behind me. I did see a cute zebra trench that I decided was just was a bit too-too and might make me look like the bottom half of a Halloween costume. Still on the hunt for something black and white and chic all over I found a gorgeous zebra belt that I tried on in the shoe department so I would have some privacy.

The sales lady, who looked like she had recently returned to the workforce after a bad divorce settlement, cooed affectionately upon discovering me in front of a mirror meant for shoes. “Isn’t that a great belt?” “Yes,” I nodded, feeling some fear that she might be thinking something cruel under her compliment. As she turned to walk away the encouraging sales assistant bent over to adjust her dove gray d’orsay pump. There was something in her action that made her seem sad, fragile and slightly unstable. I imagined that just last year she had been in my shoes, she a shopper and not a sales gal. I hope that I was wrong and fought off the impulse to ask her as she rang up my sale. As she handed me the shopping bag she looked deeply into my eyes and wished me a lovely weekend. I wished her the same and then walked to my car and collapsed into the seat. I felt a strange combination of grief, relief, and an unquenched longing as I put my car into reverse and began my drive home.

The early bird gets the Calvin Klein dress for $39.99

I am not much of a discount shopper, don’t get me wrong—I love a good deal. I think it was all the years of getting wholesale clothes from sample sales because of my parent’s being in the rag trade that made me long for simple things like sales ladies, dressing rooms and shopping bags for my purchases.

I rarely set foot into a Marshall’s, Loehmann’s or TJ Maxx. I cannot stand the mess of clothes and I am far too lazy to look for pearls among the swine. But, I have been reading Psyche’s blog the Economy of Style and have been amazed to see all the fantastic things she has found at even more fantastic prices. I still wasn’t convinced I wanted to give up the convenience, customer service and order for the hope of a great deal.

It was a couple of weeks ago when I was super early for my hair appointment and I could either go into the nearby rug shop, Joanne’s Fabrics, a Christian Book Store or Ross to waste a half an hour. It was the memory of Psyche’s Tahari eyelet dress that led me to Ross and stopped me from going into Joanne’s and walking the aisles of a store that doesn’t have a single thing I could buy, as I am neither crafty or clever in the ways of home making arts and nor do I care to be.

I saw the usual dreck and dross in Ross. There were rows of bland sameness from Jones of New York, several shiny tops for hitting the town from BCBG, and the occasional Eileen Fischer and Tahari trouser which all equaled to nothing. I tried on a Ralph Lauren crocodile pump that looked like it had too long been in captivity. I had seen enough. Just as I was ready to walk over to Persian Rugs R Us, I got the bright idea of taking a run through the dress section. I perused through work dresses that should only be worn by secretaries who are temping and have no hopes of finding permanent jobs and prom dresses that if worn would lead to promiscuity with the absolute wrong guy and would result in an unwanted pregnancy and perhaps an appearance on the Maury Povitch show.

I wondered what I was doing there as I continued to look. I reminded myself that I was killing time and it was either this or sitting in the reception area of my salon and reading year old US Weeklies. I gingerly fingered through an array of polyester Pucci print knockoffs and that is when my hand fell on a fabric that felt familiar and strangely un-synthetic. It was a black Calvin Klein Drop Waist Ponte Knit Jumper Dress and it was $39.99. I decided to go to the cattle barn of the dressing room and get a number to prove how many garments I was taking into the fluorescent lit stall where countless unsuccessful trials had occurred. I slipped the dress on expecting the garment to create a reaction of horror and self-loathing( when I garment does not look good on me I regularly blame myself and not the garment. I know! I know! No need to tell me). Instead of the expected dread I saw a dress that made me feel fabulous—I am talking the kind of fabulous that I have not felt in dresses that I have spent ten times the money on and had lovely sales associates assure me how lovely I look and wrapped my new dress in tissue and put it in a chic little shopping bag.

It gets better. A few days later I was at Nordstrom in the dress department and I saw the very same dress—absolutely and exactly the same for $118.00. As thrilled as I am with my purchase I also am loathe to admit that I am a bit of a shopping snob and I prefer to pay a little extra for a sales associate who will get me another size, some nice lighting that doesn’t make me look like I have endured some horrific nuclear experiments, and for racks of clothing to be arranged with order and an eye towards aesthetics. My savings of $78.00 was not enough to turn me into a discount shopper. It, however, does make me feel better about the top I will get to go with the dress and that I will undoubtedly pay full retail for.

I’ve Got an Interview

Monday afternoon I got the wise idea to search Careerbuilder to see if there was a job for me in my soon to be hometown. Well, in a few moments I found something and I threw together a cover letter and I sent off my resume’. 24 hours later I was called for an interview. They asked if I could come in on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Of course I said yes. I know that you get points off for not jumping at the offer to sit in L.A. traffic for three hours at the height of rush hour.

Well, I had the same dilemma I had with the wedding. I have no access whatsoever to my wardrobe so I got into the Prius and drove like the wind to the local Banana Republic. Happily I did not have my mother with me to snark any comments at me.

I found and purchased these classic pieces that will do the job for an interview:

An Ashsen Grey Cotton Tailored Shirt

and the Martin Lightweight Wool Trouser

and the fabulous Bree Wingtip High Heel Oxfords in Black.

I also got a snappy little black lizard belt—at least I think it was a lizard at one time. I am going to go with simple pearl post earrings and a short strand of pearls. Keep in mind I do not work in a corporate career so there is no need for a suit jacket—which is good news as I think it is going to be 1000 degrees in the valley tomorrow.

Please wish me luck. And should it not be the job for me I will at least have the Bree Wingtips to cheer me up.

French chic or lazy philosphy geek?

Massimo Vignelli , the acclaimed designer, who was responsible for the visual identity of American Airlines and the design of the map for the New York Subway system, among other design accomplishments, said: “Black has class. It’s the best color. There is no other color that is better than black. There are many other colors that are appropriate and happy but those colors belong on flowers. Black is a color that is man-made. It is really a projection of the brain. It is a mind color. It is intangible. It is practical. It works 24 hours a day. In the morning or the afternoon, you can dress in tweed, but in the evening, you look like a professor who has escaped from a college. Everything else has connotations that are different, but black is good for everything.”

I couldn’t agree more.

The late great country music legend Johnny Cash and I have a lot in common. No, I have never walked the line nor have I spent any time in Fulsome prison. However, like Johnny Cash and the famous Francophile, Morticia Adams, I have made a bold and unapologetic commitment to uni-hue dressing.

It was early in adolescence that I donned myself in a uniform of noir in a pre-goth iconoclastic rebellion. I relied on the power of the nigredo to express both my angst and my artistic nature. My cloak of darkness was symbolic of my inner state of adolescent angst.

My black filled closet created a sort of sartorial Sartreanism or Camus couture—if you will.
Black bore the burden of communicating gravitas, depth, creativity, iconoclasm, mystery, and style—a lot to expect from a single outfit. Unfortunately, my continued attempt at individuality through a complete rejection of color that could not be found in a bruise has been universally appropriated by those in university philosophy departments, writing programs, and coffee houses filled with the ubiquitous woman in black.

It was the standard attempt at iconoclasm and rebellion via a cliché. The hidden or dark side of my costume de noir is that it allowed me to blindly grab two items from the black hole that was my closet and with no forethought emerge with something that appeared moderately chic and pulled together—working as a sort of Garanimals for adults.

Unbeknownst to me the “gal in black” look, had an inky expiration date obfuscated in the dark fabric that had expired as long ago as the collection of questionable canned goods that sit in the dusty curiosity museum which I call my pantry. I realized that my quirky and rebellious look had begun to look sad, lifeless and in the wrong lighting a little “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”

When assaulted with an epidemic of uninvited inquiries in regards to my sleep habits and general well being, I would attempt to assure the insensitive interlopers that I was as energetic as my phlegmatic nature allowed. No, I did not need a Vitamin B shot or more iron in my diet—but I could use some color. Black was no longer registering as cool or sophisticated but as funereal. The irony is as the closer we get to death the less black works.

In attempt to revive my fading élan vital, I recalled faded memories of an octogenarian aunt who double tasked her Revlon Cherries in the Snow lipstick as a makeshift rouge. When the pinching of her cheeks no longer provided the flushed results she was looking for, she applied halting streaks of red to her sharp cheekbones that unearthed her Osage ancestry. She blended the best she could without a mirror. The results were mixed, sometimes she would achieve a China doll blush, rings of rosy red dotting her powdery canvas and more frequently she looked as if she had been kissed by a Rorschach test.

I went through my combination junk drawer/ makeup drawer that contained enough loose change to count as a piggy bank and I found a Tempting Taffeta blush that could serve as a time capsule to a former me. This drawer held a me that had temp jobs and dated a pilot with addiction issues. I bought the blush at a Bullock’s in Encino back when I wore Norma Kamali mini skirts and went to the Red Onion for the $1.00 Kamikaze night. I dusted off the once shiny black compact with scratched up double C’s and assured myself that blush never goes bad. I loaded up a generous application on a blush brush and applied it to the place where me cheek bones should be. The Tempting Taffeta blush left my face resembling a pallor of polyester.

Deciding, on second thought, that blush can go bad. I headed to my least favorite place in the world after the dentist, and the DMV. I headed to a department store cosmetic counter. I came armed with the best defense one can have when facing a profiteer of insecurity, I knew exactly what I was there for. I was unwilling to listen to her coos about my beautiful eyes and how much bigger they would look if I used a purple eyeliner and their newest lash extending magical mascara. I left with my single purchase, some psychic residue from the snotty attitude of the sales associate and a hope for youth and beauty all to be found in a blush.

Sadly, I discovered that there was not enough Nars Orgasm blush in the world to bring me back to life in all black. All out of aces, I knew had to rethink my fashion philosophy. This was the moment red started sneaking into my closet. Soon after orange arrived. Later on I bought brown.

I do see the expansion of my colour scheme as more than just a mere matter of maturing skin. There was a corresponding inner change that had occurred with each integration of a new colour. Just recently I bought a beautiful bold oceanic blue scarf that would have never would have occurred to me before. Surfacing from the depths of despair it seemed like a triumphant colour—and it looks really great with a basic black tee and my city fit stretch black cropped chinos. Others may just see a beautiful scarf, I see it as a sign that I have expanded my capacity for colour—not a small achievement. Still, black makes up over 80% of my closet and I like it that way.

List of articles/ blogs on black:
The Black Wardrobe A digital showroom for all of this bloggers black wardrobe.
Jerri’s Organizing and Decluttering News explores “Wearing Black: The Benefits of a Simplified Wardrobe.”
Observation Mode questions “Is black ever OUT?”

If you have an all black wardrobe and you want to get a job, try here. Oh, and you will need a lot of Woolite for All Darks and a lot of these. As a matter of fact, the simplicity of the black wardrobe is forever complicated by my endless need for lint rollers.

Photo of black wardrobe comes from here.

About Me

My name is Tracey, aka La Belette Rouge. I am a psychotherapist and the author of Freudian Sip @ Psychology Today. I blog about psychology, my therapy, dreams, writing, meaning making, home, longing, loss, infertility and other things that delight or inspire me. I try to make deep and elusive psychodynamic concepts accessible and funny. For more information, click here .
These blog posts are informational only and not meant to replace individual psychotherapy, counseling or medical advice. If you are in need of help, reaching out to a professional may help you decide how to proceed or how to find the care you need. For a referral, contact

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